AOTrauma Webinar:  Why Do Patients Get Infection?

May 30, 2017 14:00 CET

Main Presenter: Olivier Borens, MD (Switzerland)
Chat Moderator: Stephen Kates, MD (USA)

Surgical site infections after trauma are debilitating and costly. They are feared by the surgeon and the patient alike. The incidence of this complication can be decreased by proper preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative management.
The goal of this webinar is to present easy-to-use tools and strategies that will lead to a decrease in the incidence of infection.

More information and registration...


Executive Editor: Chris Colton

Authors: Florian Gebhard, Phil Kregor, Chris Oliver

Distal femur 33-C2 Provisional treatment

back to skeleton


1 Principles top


In cases where it is not possible to proceed to early definitive osteosynthesis (polytrauma, soft-tissue problems, patient condition, limited resources), a spanning external fixator is often used. A long leg splint can also be applied.

Temporary, proximal tibial, skeletal traction is reserved for those cases in which it is not possible to place a spanning external fixator, or use a long leg splint.

Care should be taken to protect pressure points on the skin.

2 Surface anatomy top


Tibial tuberosity/patella/common peroneal nerve

Bend the knee to make identification of the surface anatomy easier.

First, locate the prominence of the tibial tuberosity and circle it with a skin marker.

Next, identify the patella, followed by the infrapatellar tendon.

Rotate the leg internally and palpate the fibular head. The location of the peroneal nerve is just posterior to the fibular head. This area should be avoided during pin insertion.

3 Pin insertion top


Stab incision

Use a local anesthetic injected subcutaneously down to the tibial periosteum. Make a stab incision approximately 2.5 cm posterior to the tibial tuberosity avoiding the peroneal nerve.


Wire insertion

Insert a large K-wire, or a strong Steinmann pin, 1-2 cm distal to the level of the tibial tubercle. Ensure that the pin is inserted 1 cm posterior to the anterior cortex of the tibia to ensure that it does not cut out of the tibia.


In elderly patients with osteoporotic bone if long term temporary fixation is required the pin may need to be incorporated into a below knee plaster.

Alternatively, two parallel pins, about 1 cm apart, preloaded, and linked medially and laterally with Hoffmann-type external fixator clamps, will reduce the risk of cutting out.

4 Application of skeletal traction top


After the wire has been inserted, connect it to an appropriate stirrup with 7-15 kg skeletal traction. Place a padded bolster in the supracondylar region to allow for knee flexion.

There may need to be some counter traction and the foot of the bed may need to be elevated.

v1.0 2008-12-03